Retired MT Attorneys Provide Pro Bono Legal Advice
Monday, February 13, 2023
For their next act in life, retired attorneys in Montana are providing free legal advice on civil matters over the phone.
The Second Act Justice Project from the Montana Legal Services Association recruits emeritus volunteers - that is, lawyers who are retired but have active attorney status - so they can provide pro bono advice for low income Montanans.
Dan McLean is one of about 70 active volunteers. He practiced for 38 years and specializes in trusts, estates and elder law.
"It allows me to use my expertise, use my background, my training to help people," said McLean. "And that's why I became a lawyer was to help people, and so I can still do that. And it's so gratifying because the people are grateful for the advice they get."
McLean said the people he helps have told him his advise has demystified the legal process.
The program is especially helpful in rural areas where fewer attorneys are available, since advice is given over the phone.
While the right to an attorney is guaranteed in criminal cases, that's not the same in civil cases.
Ellie Webster is the pro bono coordinator at the Montana Legal Services Association. She said the program provides crucial help in these cases.
"Those are things that affect your housing, divorces, parenting plans, adoptions, etc," said Webster. "You're not entitled an attorney. So, essentially, if you cannot afford an attorney, you're out of luck. So that's where we come in."
McLean encouraged other retired attorneys in Montana to get involved in the program.
"It's one of those things that keeps you active in retirement," said McLean. "It keeps you involved and that's important. I spent years getting trained and years practicing and I don't want to give up all that expertise and knowledge.
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